AI generated images in a time of war

    It’s one thing user-generated content being circulated around social media for the purposes of disinformation. It’s another thing entirely when Adobe’s stock image marketplace is selling AI-generated ‘photos’ of destroyed buildings in Gaza.

    This article in VICE includes a comment from an Adobe spokesperson who references the Content Authenticity Initiative. But this just puts the problem on the user rather than the marketplace. People looking to download AI-generated images to spread disinformation, don’t care about the CAI, and will actively look for ways to circumvent it.

    Screenshot of Adobe stock images site with AI-generated image titled "Destroyed buildings in Gaza town of Gaza strip in Israel, Affected by war."
    Adobe is selling AI-generated images showing fake scenes depicting bombardment of cities in both Gaza and Israel. Some are photorealistic, others are obviously computer-made, and at least one has already begun circulating online, passed off as a real image.

    As first reported by Australian news outlet Crikey, the photo is labeled “conflict between Israel and palestine generative ai” and shows a cloud of dust swirling from the tops of a cityscape. It’s remarkably similar to actual photographs of Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, but it isn’t real. Despite being an AI-generated image, it ended up on a few small blogs and websites without being clearly labeled as AI.


    As numerous experts have pointed out, the collapse of social media and the proliferation of propaganda has made it hard to tell what’s actually going on in conflict zones. AI-generated images have only muddied the waters, including over the last several weeks, as both sides have used AI-generated imagery for propaganda purposes. Further compounding the issue is that many publicly-available AI generators are launched with few guardrails, and the companies that build them don’t seem to care.

    Source: Adobe Is Selling AI-Generated Images of Violence in Gaza and Israel | VICE

    Brains melted like butter in a microwave

    This is a really powerful essay about the American response — or lack of it to the news that the Taliban have taken Kabul. The author, Antonio García Martínez, contends that Americans are “no longer a serious people” and spend too much time manufacturing reality.

    You see, in the Before Times there was a reality ‘out there’, peoples and cultures unlike ours that stubbornly refused to think and act as we did (and we knew it); facts on the ground that were immune to social-media spirals of bloviation and simply could not be ignored (and we knew it). We grappled with them, debated them, rallied consensus around them, and just dealt with reality however poorly perceived it might have been. And leaders who could not deal with inarguable realities, such as Carter with his botched Iranian rescue operation, did not stay leaders for very long.
    The war in Afghanistan cost a trillion dollars over 20 years, thousands of lives, and was ultimately an exercise in futility:
    This might seem flip and 'too soon', but the irony highlights the real civilizational difference here: one where combat is via prissy morality and pure spectacle, and one where the battles are literal and deadly. One where elites contest power via spiraling purity and virality contests waged online, and where defeat means ‘cancelation’ or livestreamed ‘struggle sessions’ around often imaginary or minor offenses. And another place where the price of defeat is death, exile, rape, destitution, and fates so grim people die dangling from airplanes in order to escape.

    In short, an unserious country mired in the most masturbatory hysterics over bullshit dramas waged war against an insurgency of religious zealots fired by a 7th-century morality, and utterly and totally lost.

    And all we can do in the wake of it, with our brains melted like butter in a microwave by four years of Trump and Twitter and everything else, is to once again try and understand in our terms a hyper-violent insurgency of fanatics, guilty of every manner of cultural barbarism, now running a country with the population of Texas.

    Source: We are no longer a serious people | The Pull Request